So it’s time to go back to school, and you are faced with a popular inquiry, what is the best graphing calculator for school: ? This inquiry has gotten more complicated in recent years as Casio of America and TI have continued their battle over the title of best calculator for school.
The fight really got going back in 2007 when Texas Instruments introduced the TI-Nspire, a true attempt at the world’s first graphing calculator that was more like a computer. The Nspire was unlike any graphing calculator to that point, since it had a lot of features previously only seen on computers like drop down menus, folders and files, a cursor that moved like a mouse, and even a sort of tabbed window experience.
This was a gigantic change from the ancient TI-84 that they had been promoting at the time. The TI-84 was actually just an upgrade of the ancient TI-83 which was an upgrade of the even older TI-82, created in the early 1990′s, and its age showed. That calculator had become unbelievably popular, but it was really outdated from a technology standpoint, and it was hard for Texas Instruments to justify charging over one hundred dollars for it. While Texas Instruments probably wanted to move on to the more sophisticated TI-Nspire, it was not easy. Educators and students had found a comfort zone with the older calculator and were hesitant to give it up for the radically different TI-Nspire.
So Casio of America felt there was an opportunity to steal all of those faithful TI-84 users before they became loyal TI-Nspire users. Casio of America is no stranger to innovation. They actually created the world’s first graphing calculator all the way back in 1985. Their plan was bold. They decided to manufacture the world’s first full color graphing calculator, with the ability to load photographs and graph functions right onto them. The calculator was named Prizm, and was announced in October of 2010 to much acclaim. By early 2011, it had been released and right away, there was interest from kids and teachers.
And so it came that Texas Instruments realized they had to respond. Shortly after the Prizm was available for sale, TI announced their own color graphing calculator, the TI-Nspire CX CAS. It was a slick looking package that was a significant improvment on older TI-Nspire CX models. Thinner, brighter, and with a rechargeable battery, TI hoped to put down the Casio of America rebellion.
Which brings us to today. Back to school 2011 may be decisive for determining who the winner of the race for best scientific calculator will be. TI has been the frontrunner in graphing calculators for decades, with a near choke hold on the market. Casio is the newcomer, but has been making good educational products for several years now, and they know they have the products to compete. Who will win? Well, that’s going to be determined by you, the teacher, the college student, the buyer.
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